Board of County Commissioners of Putnam County v. Patrick Brothers, A General Partnership, 091619 OHCA3, 12-18-11

Docket Nº:12-18-11, 12-18-12
Opinion Judge:ZIMMERMAN, P.J.
Party Name:BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF PUTNAM COUNTY, OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, v. PATRICK BROTHERS, A GENERAL PARTNERSHIP, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES. STATE EX REL. PATRICK BROTHERS, A GENERAL PARTNERSHIP, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES, v. BOARD OF PUTNAM COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
Attorney:Gary L. Lammers and Frank J. Reed, Jr. for Appellant Linde Hurst Webb and Daniel Ellis for Appellees, Patrick Bros. et al. Matthew A. Cunningham for Appellee, The Buckeye Stave Co.
Judge Panel:PRESTON, J., concurs. WILLAMOWSKI, J., dissenting.
Case Date:September 16, 2019
Court:Court of Appeals of Ohio
 
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2019-Ohio-3722

BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF PUTNAM COUNTY, OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

PATRICK BROTHERS, A GENERAL PARTNERSHIP, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.

STATE EX REL. PATRICK BROTHERS, A GENERAL PARTNERSHIP, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

BOARD OF PUTNAM COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Nos. 12-18-11, 12-18-12

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Putnam

September 16, 2019

Appeals from Putnam County Common Pleas Court Trial Court Nos. 12 CV 73 and 12 CV 55

Judgments Reversed

Gary L. Lammers and Frank J. Reed, Jr. for Appellant

Linde Hurst Webb and Daniel Ellis for Appellees, Patrick Bros. et al.

Matthew A. Cunningham for Appellee, The Buckeye Stave Co.

OPINION

ZIMMERMAN, P.J.

{¶1} Appellant, the Board of Putnam County Commissioners ("Board"), appeals the August 10, 2018 judgment entry of the Putnam County Court of Common Pleas awarding supplemental attorney fees to appellees, Patrick Brothers, a General Partnership, et al. (collectively, "landowners"). For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

{¶2} This appeal stems from two consolidated cases-a complaint (assigned case number 12 CV 55) filed on March 12, 2012 by the landowners against the Board alleging violations of the Ohio Sunshine Act ("Sunshine Act case") and applications for appropriation (assigned case number 12 CV 73) filed on April 6, 2012 by the Board against the landowners ("appropriations case")-involving the widening of County Road 5 in Putnam County, Ohio.1 (Case No. 12 CV 55, Doc. No. 1); (Case No. 12 CV 73, Doc. No. 1). This court recited much of the factual and procedural background of the cases in a previous appeal, and we will not duplicate those efforts here. See State ex rel Patrick Bros., A Gen. Partnership v. Putnam Cty. Bd. of Commrs., 3d Dist. Putnam No. 12-13-05, 2014-Ohio-2717. (See also Bd. of Cty. Commrs. of Putnam County v. Patrick Bros., A Gen. Partnership, 12-15-06, Dec. 21, 2015 Accelerated JE). The facts relevant to this appeal are as follows.

{¶3} On June 23, 2014, this court concluded (in the Sunshine Act case) that the trial court erred by failing to issue the landowners' requested injunction based violations of the Ohio Sunshine Act and the Board's failure to comply with statutory requirements prior to authorizing the widening of County Road 5, and the case was remanded to the trial court to determine the appropriate remedies in that proceeding. See State ex rel. Patrick Bros. at ¶ 32-40, 49, 51.

{¶4} After the release of this court's opinion, the trial court (in the Sunshine Act case) issued a permanent injunction against the Board on July 2, 2015. (Case No. 12 CV 55, Doc. No. 140).

{¶5} The landowners filed a motion on February 12, 2015 (in the appropriations case) and a motion on June 29, 2015 (in the Sunshine Act case) for attorney fees under R.C. 163.21(B)(1) and (2), and 121.22(I)(2)(a), respectively. (Case No. 12 CV 55, Doc. No. 135); (Case No. 12 CV 73, Doc. No. 47).2 The Board filed memoranda in opposition to the landowners' motions on February 25, 2015 and July 2, 2015, respectively. (Case No. 12 CV 55, Doc. No. 137); (Case No. 12 CV 73, Doc. No. 48). The landowners filed their response to the Board's memorandum in opposition to their motion for attorney fees (in the appropriations case) on March 2, 2015. (Case No. 12 CV 73, Doc. No. 49).

{¶6} On May 26, 2015, the trial court granted the landowners' motion for attorney fees (in the appropriations case), but reserved the determination of the amount of attorney fees for a later time. (Case No. 12 CV 73, Doc. Nos. 53, 58). The landowners appealed the trial court's decision on June 15, 2015 and this court dismissed their appeal for the lack of a final, appealable order on December 21, 2015. (Case No. 12 CV 73, Doc. No. 61); (Bd of Cty. Commrs. of Putnam County v. Patrick Bros., A Gen. Partnership, 12-15-06, Dec. 21, 2015 Accelerated JE).

{¶7} Meanwhile, the trial court denied the landowners' motion for attorney fees (in the Sunshine Act case) on July 29, 2015. (Case No. 12 CV 55, Doc. No. 148). Accordingly, on September 28, 2015, the landowners filed a motion (in the Sunshine Act Case) for attorney fees under Civ.R. 54(D) and R.C. 121.22(I)(1) and (2) "as a result of the success of the decision of the Third District Court of Appeals, Case No. 2014-Ohio-2717, which is a case of public interest, and move[d] the court to assess the expenses attached, as court costs." (Case No. 12 CV 55, Doc. No. 165). On March 30, 2016, the landowners filed an updated motion for costs, which was "filed for costs incurred after September 17, 2015, including [the landowners' expert witness's] additional time, resulting in a total [landowner] costs of $23, 609.30." (Case No. 12 CV 55, Doc. No. 188).

{¶8} The landowners filed a motion on January 14, 2016 for a hearing to determine the amount of attorney fees and expenses (in the appropriations case) that the trial court previously awarded. (Case No. 12 CV 73, Doc. No. 66). On January 28, 2016, the Board dismissed its appropriation petitions. (Case No. 12 CV 73, Docs. No. 68, 70).

{¶9} On May 6...

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